Seniority key in leadership transition, says Johnson

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By Akeem Greene

The age of 32 is prime time for most cricketers. This is usually the period they hit the peak of their prowess. As such, one would anticipate current Guyana Jaguars captain Leon Johnson would not step away from the sport anytime soon.

Whenever he does though, he hopes it is a senior player who is entrusted to lead the side.

Though the runs have not flowed to the likeness of the Test player, he has admirably led Jaguars to five of the six Regional Four-Day titles since the inception of the Professional Cricket League (PCL) by Cricket West Indies in 2014.

In 2019, he was awarded the Golden Arrow of Achievement by President David Granger, for his outstanding leadership and contribution to the game.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Anthony Bramble is another senior figure with
captaincy experience (Photo: WICB Media/Kerrie Eversley)

Appearing recently on Quarantine and Sports Talk, hosted by Journalist Rawle Toney, Johnson was questioned on the players he would like to see take up the role of captaincy.

Shimron Hetmyer, who historically led West Indies to Youth World Cup success in 2016, is seen by many as one that should be groomed.

Current vice-captain Vishaul Singh (Photo: WICB Media/Kerrie Eversley)

However, Hetmyer has played only 18 of the 58 Four-Day matches for Jaguars since the Championship started, mainly due to international commitments.

Johnson, who last wore the maroon cap in November 2016 against Pakistan, feels senior players is the way to go when his tenure comes to an end.

“Obviously when that time comes I generally believe that somebody senior in the side should take over. It should be someone senior and not somebody who is finding their way or trying to find their way into the team if you are obviously looking to bring players along.”

He added, “Vishaul [Singh] has been the vice-captain for five years…if you say grooming, most times you are thinking of someone young. They are senior players like Anthony Bramble, who captained the West Indies B team and has shown good leadership qualities among the group; [Veerasammy] Permaul has done it, he has a couple of stints as Guyana captain and is another senior player.”

Singh, who has played three Tests for West Indies, is currently 31, while Bramble is 29.

During this season and the last one, some persons have been calling for Johnson’s exit due to what they deem “underperformance”.

Apart from the 2015-16 season, where he topped the championship charts with 807 runs, having scored two centuries and five half-centuries, he has never surpassed 500 runs.

However, his returns were still good enough to be among the leading with his teammates. In 2018-19, he had 480 runs from 20 innings and struck four half-centuries. This season, he led with 472 runs from 14 innings with one of the two centuries for Jaguars and two fifties.

Overall in the PCL, he has scored 3,022 runs from 98 innings with four centuries, the highest being 189 not out against Windward Volcanoes this season, and 18 half-centuries.

In the six seasons, Jaguars players have made 121 half-centuries and 30 centuries.

Evidently, scoring centuries continues to be a bugbear for Jaguars and according to Johnson, that was a factor in them losing the title this season, which was cut short by two rounds owing to the coronavirus.

Points leaders Barbados Pride took top honours, while Jaguars finished joint third.

“Some of the disappointing aspects of the season…the batters not converting those half-centuries into centuries. Obviously I have been guilty of that over my career. They have been instances where the guys would have been set and kind of give their wicket away and bring the opposition back into the game.”

“One of the things we pride ourselves over the past seasons is once a batter gets in, he scores a hundred and the team would benefit.”

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